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TOWNSHIP WEST PIKELAND v. GEORGE F. THORNTON (06/12/87)

decided: June 12, 1987.

TOWNSHIP OF WEST PIKELAND, APPELLANT
v.
GEORGE F. THORNTON, JR. AND PATRICIA A. THORNTON, HIS WIFE, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, in case of Township of West Pikeland v. George F. Thornton, Jr. and Patricia A., h/w, No. 84-02228.

COUNSEL

Sondra K. Slade, with her, Patricia T. Brennan, Pitt, Agulnick, Supplee & Slade, for appellant.

No appearance for appellee.

Judges Craig and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 106 Pa. Commw. Page 561]

The Township of West Pikeland appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County which rejected the township's post-trial motion, after the court refused to enjoin George F. Thornton, Jr. and Patricia A. Thornton from using their three-bay garage for any business-related purpose. We reverse.

[ 106 Pa. Commw. Page 562]

The landowners, seeking to construct a three-bay garage on their property in a Conservation-Residence (C-R) district, had approached a township zoning hearing board officer for a permit. The zoning officer refused to issue the permit because the permit application stated that the garage would be used "for storage of equipment and trucks," and a commercial usage is prohibited in a C-R district. After then consulting the chairman of the zoning hearing board, the landowners wrote on the sketch plan, attached as part of the permit application, that "this building is intended for personal use of storage of equipment and not commercial usage." Below the landowners' handwritten notation on the sketch plan, the chairman wrote that "this plan is okay per our zoning plan. S/W. Miller. No hearing required. 2/24/80." On April 4, 1980, the board issued to the landowners a permit for the construction of the garage.

Thereafter, the landowners began construction of the garage. On October 27, 1980, the landowners were cited for storing construction and masonry equipment on their residentially zoned property, in violation of the township zoning ordinance. The landowners were found guilty of and fined for that violation.

On April 3, 1984, the landowners applied to the board for a permit to use their garage "for occasional, short-term indoor storage and minor repairs of equipment and facilities of our masonry contracting business, all to be enclosed in a building currently situated on the property." The board denied the landowners' permit application.

[ 106 Pa. Commw. Page 563]

On March 30, 1984, the township filed, with the trial court, an action for an injunction to enjoin the landowners from storing commercial equipment and materials on their property. The trial court's refusal of the injunction, which led to this appeal, was based upon Petrosky v. Zoning Hearing Board of the Township of Page 563} Upper Chichester, 485 Pa. 501, 402 A.2d 1385 (1979). In Petrosky, our Supreme Court enumerated the following five factors which must ...


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